Updated Wed, Mar 30, 2011 by Sardu
If I had any major gripe about Bulletstorm it would be for the game's incredibly lackluster multiplayer mode. Anarchy mode places groups of four players into scaled-down maps and has them facing multiple waves of AI opponents. To progress between waves, your team must collectively score enough points through skillshots, or you'll be forced to replay that wave until you do.
Anarchy mode does offer a quick join option, but due to the chaotic nature of combat it works best when playing with a preformed group of friends.
While there are some awesome opportunities to expand on the core skillshot system involving cooperative kill combos, Anarchy gets pretty boring quickly. There's hardly enough variety to justify the multiplayer leveling system, but I suppose Players Can Fly felt the need to at least give players at least some reason to bother.
Considering how engaging the game's combat system is overall, it truly is a shame that there are no PvP maps. While the lack of their inclusion certainly isn't reflected in my score here, the tacked-on feel of Anarchy mode most definitely is.
For the hefty full retail price tag of $60, you would expect a lot more from Bulletstorm than a roughly 6 hour single player campaign, replay leaderboard system, and tacked-on cooperative multiplayer mode. The lack of a meaningful value to cost ratio makes you wonder how it could have taken four years to develop the game.
I would certainly recommend Bulletstorm to anyone looking for a unique FPS experience that rewards creativity in combat over twitch gaming skill level, but I would also encourage people to wait until the price has seen a significant drop. The overall value simply isn’t there to justify the full retail price. At best Bulletstorm should have been a $40 game from the word go, but it’s pretty obvious that EA and Epic were simply trying to cash in on brand recognition while fans wait for Gears of War 3 (multiplayer beta access for that title is bundled in the box purchase for the Xbox 360 version). Why that same price was forced on PC gamers for the initial release though is anyone’s guess.
As fun as Bulletstorm is, its too bad that it has such a high price point, but one look at the game's official website and it's pretty clear the marketing department had a hand in that.
Bulletstorm is a title that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that carries over to how likely you’ll be to continue playing the game once the exceedingly short single player campaign has been completed. The multiplayer mode available seems more like an afterthought, so unless you’re the type of gamer to get hooked on achieving high leaderboard rankings in the Echoes replay challenge mode, Bulletstorm is likely to become a very “fire and forget” gaming experience for most.
It becomes obvious in the final act of Bulletstorm that the game is intended to develop into yet another franchise under the Epic Games umbrella. But at the end of the day, for all of Bulletstorm’s over-the-top chaotic combat the game still falls short of being truly epic, and feels a bit more like a tech demo for the next Gears of War release rather than a fully realized concept.
The overly abundant and vulgar use of profanity will be a turnoff for most players who aren’t space pirates themselves, and the laughably shallow plot certainly doesn’t help matters. However, the overall gameplay experience is a breath of fresh air for the genre, even if its potential is never fully realized.
This is doubly true when it comes to Bulletstorm’s multiplayer. Being a Games for Windows Live title certainly doesn’t help matters in that department either.
Still, Bulletstorm is worth checking out despite its many blatant flaws as a complete package. Although until a PC demo finally emerges (it’s still MIA a full month after release) I would expect that any lasting success as a PC release will rest solely on how heavily the game is promoted as a discount title on Steam later this year.